Over-emphasis on new pope?

I feel like there is an over-emphasis on the selection process of the new patriarch and on who this person will be...

They are doing interviews and discussing what seems like their platforms, etc.

It is as if we are selecting the president of the Coptic church.

The reason I am uneasy about of all the attention the candidates are getting is because it over-emphasizes the power of the newly elected patriarch. This leads to an increase in authority. I have even talked to some people who think that the pope dictates what happens in other dioceses! As far as I know, it is the Holy Synod that has absolute authority, not the pope...

What do y'all think?


  • I think it works both ways, qawe.

    Maybe someone with a better history background can inform us if there was always so much hysteria about the selection of the patriarch.

    I think that the pope is being given too much power (more than originally intended)...

    He becomes an agenda-setter. He selects bishops, creates offices, dictates the focus of the church, etc.

  • [quote author=qawe link=topic=13803.msg160754#msg160754 date=1351494215]
    [quote author=Andrew link=topic=13803.msg160753#msg160753 date=1351493782]
    I think it works both ways, qawe.

    Maybe someone with a better history background can inform us if there was always so much hysteria about the selection of the patriarch.

    I think that the pope is being given too much power (more than originally intended)...

    He becomes an agenda-setter. He selects bishops, creates offices, dictates the focus of the church, etc.

    No of course there was never so much hysteria - it was often just a unanimous choice of a single person for the job.
    The hysteria only developed once the Pope of Alexandria was equated with the Pope of Rome - since people don't realise that all Pope means is 'father' and it is not a rank of the church.  The major ranks are only sub-deacon (ambiguous), (arch-)deacon, priest, bishop.  I may have made an error in this - but 'pope' and 'metropolitan' certainly aren't distinct ranks from bishop.


    So, should he have an equal voice, or should his voice hold more weight than other bishops on such issues as the direction of the church, the nomination of new bishops, redistricting, approving projects/expansions, budget, etc...?

  • [quote author=qawe link=topic=13803.msg160755#msg160755 date=1351494504]
    Oh and btw, it possibly does work both ways.

    I think when I denied this I was mainly focussing on how to fix the problem.  You cannot expect people to stop making a fuss when there is so much at stake (the direction of the church for potentially FORTY years)

    So the only solution is to curb the power of the Pope.

    I do think the power of the pope should be curbed. I was really amazed that several people I spoke with acted as if Bishop Serapion, for example, would need to ask permission from the pope before making a serious decision...

    I think this is indicative of a incorrect understanding of papal authority, which could be dangerous.
  • Andrew, you bring up some really good points. The patriarch is not supreme over the Synod. The proof of this comes from previous events from previous synods. The Synod removed Pope Yousab II in 1956. They would  not have ecclesiastical power to do this if the Pope was some sort of supreme authority.

    We also know that Pope Shenouda rarely exercised supreme power or some sort of veto power against the Synod or an individual bishop. It was humility that made him a great pope and leader, not a dictator-like personality.

    There are two main reasons why I think people are making such a big deal about the election. First, this is the first patriarch election process that has been globalized in the internet world. All the previous ordinations occurred within a closed system. Journalists were allowed since 1957 but they didn't have any far reaching influence. In other words, everything that happened in the previous ordinations happened in the background. When one patriarch died, the Coptic world received news when the new patriarch was ordained. People fail to recognize that there were many, many, many, many patriarchs who faced numerous obstacles, objections and in the 20th century legal action.

    Recent research among some German scholars have challenged Pope Athanasius' ordination. Pope Cyril was criticized for nepotism. Many patriarchs were challenged by the "arakhna" (the archons, or lay leaders). When the lay leaders gained political power, they ordained a patriarch from among the laity, not the monks (which happened about 10 times). Then there were monasteries fighting among each other. The highest number of patriarchs came from the St Antony's monastery. But many felt a patriarch who comes from a monastic background must come from Shiheet. St Macarius' monastery was always the most influential monastery in Shiheet. So many patriarchs come from there. Then there was Pope Cyril IV who was supported by one party and locum tenens supported by the next. It was the Ottoman Caliph who stepped in to resolve the issues. It was rarely a unanimous choice for one person.

    But none of this was known during the election process because it happened behind the scenes. This election was intentionally heavily televised and all objections, which came predominately through web blogs and emails, were addressed. This doesn't mean it's a bad thing to televise the process. However, we are in new territory here that we haven't seen in our Coptic history.

    Secondly, people fail to recognize there is no way to separate politics from the church. One patriarch can try to minimize politics (like Pope Peter VII) and one can use politics for his advantage (like Pope Cyril IV and Pope Cyril V). The problems lies when people try to use politics on the patriarch. This is what happened during the papacy of Pope Cyril V when the Communal council (maglis al mili) tried to enforce their power over the patriarchate. They failed once and succeeded the second time. And their influence has become part of the fabric of the patriarchal election process. Before 19th century, there was no such thing as involving the laity at the same level of the clergy in the election process. It was either all laity or all clergy during the process. Recognizing the power of popular opinion, Locum tenens Metropolitan Mikhail created a lay council after 1861 to help him get elected. This died out but the idea of a communal council to aid in the election process had its greatest influence during the papacy of Pope Cyril V. It got to the point that the communal council had Pope Cyril V removed from the throne with the aid of Ismail Pasha. Backed by the clergy and the peasant population, Pope Cyril V was reinstated. The communal council and proponents of higher education eventually realized that they needed the patriarchate's support for their reform. So they backed off but continued to maintain influence in the election process. Nearly 100 years later, separating the lay council  and popular opinion from the election process is now impossible. Additionally, in the political climax of Egypt over the last year, people seem to want to voice their political opinion by choosing a patriarch who will fight politically for them as Pope Shenouda did. But now they want more of it.

    Personally, I find it sad that we seek to resolve problems with politics instead of trust in God. The pope who leads by trust in God, rather than popular opinion and politics, is the one who will have the most effect on the Coptic Church and the world as a whole.

  • I agree with you Remnkemi, the trust in God's mercy is humility. If there is supremacy then it is exaltation, putting one above.
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